I recently had the honor of joining a virtual ritual convened by Age Without Borders. We gathered in observance of the 11 souls lost – many of them Elders – in a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on October 27th. Our time together was marked by the words of the officiating rabbi.
He shared, “You are not responsible to change the entire world, but you are responsible to change your immediate world, your community.” His call to action focused on the dangers of “otherizing” – a societal tendency to perceive others as alien, separate, or different from ourselves. This reminded me of the Hebrew expression “Tikkun Olam” that we share during Certified Eden Associate Training. Tikkun Olam means repair the world.
In our own little piece of the world, how can each of us stand as a beacon for what it means to embrace each unique individual and reject the impulse to otherize, regardless, of age, ability, ethnicity, gender, or religious/spiritual expression? What if we challenged ourselves and each other every day to ask these two questions:
Will the choice, action, or reaction that is present for me right now support my desire to help build a caring community that celebrates our differences?
Or will it divide, segregate, or compartmentalize us based on those differences and minimize the sense of identity and connectedness that is so vital to our well-being?
As change agents, we are already distinctively positioned to help heal the world, simply by sharing or modeling what we practice each day… the tenets of person-directed care. We know that we cannot provide care that is deeply acknowledging, deeply healing, or deeply empowering without moving beyond assumptions and stereotypes and really seeing the exquisite singularity of each human being.
We live the truth that ageism and ableism — and frankly any ISM – is profoundly “othering”, dehumanizing, and breeds loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. We know that Human Habitats function like any natural habitat – their strength thrives on the presence of diversity, a multiplicity of both life and experience. We also know that making mistakes along the way and feeling scared and resistant to change is a natural part of the process. And that we must compassionately support one another, as we seek to reach beyond our resistance.
We have the knowledge and the tools to heal the world. Imagine the collective power of all of us living by example, and modeling our ideals every day in our workplaces, in our own homes, in our neighborhoods and throughout our broader communities.
We’ve seen how the work we do changes lives – the lives of those we serve, as well as our own.
We have the power… like ripples into waves.
Join us for a 2-part, empowering conversation about creating welcoming, inclusive communities in Unlocking the Doors: Creating Inclusivity for People Who Live with Dementia.